Lost Ruins is a survival-based Metroidvania that has finally landed on Nintendo Switch. You take on the role of a young character who has been called to a dungeon with no recollection whatsoever of who she is or what she needs to do. Lost Ruins is a tense, twisting, combat-heavy title that presents the player with a maze of challenges along the way. This one may be for you if you’re on the hunt for a thrilling new adventure with a gritty, anime-like art style.
The dungeon our protagonist has been summoned to houses the beginning of our journey and sets the scene for most of the trip. You engage in heavy combat throughout this area and meet an exciting and charismatic mage, Beatrice. Beatrice is your source of information within the title, and she lets you know the reasoning for why you’ve been called to action. She’s quick to inform you that you have been tasked to take on the Dark Lady, who has been sealed away in the castle you begin your adventure in.
The combat within this game isn’t as smooth as you’d expect from a Metroidvania. The art style suggests a retro-like approach to combat from the get-go, but this isn’t very exciting or unique. After engaging with the likes of Hollow Knight and Ender Lilies, challenging combat in Metroidvania titles isn’t a new concept to me. However, the combat within Lost Ruins is particularly punishing. The majority of enemies you face hit hard with combos, resulting in an instant K.O. As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating.
You learn different spells and skills along the way, making it easier to take on certain enemies, but you’ll need to equip them before stumbling into another battle. I found it’s most efficient to do a sacrificial run first to learn which moves monsters and dungeon-dwelling creatures use before running through again with the correct spells and skills.
Face your fate
You will inevitably die a lot during this game. You’ll have to restart levels time and time again before you even get to grips with the controls and feel of the game. It took me a while to get used to this since I spent more time replaying identical sequences before I could progress onto the next area. Like any game, you’ll need to practice to progress. But there’s something about how Lost Ruins goes about it, making it feel much more challenging.
Luckily, checkpoints are frequent enough to mean you’re not chasing through ridiculous lengths to make up for lost time. But surprisingly, these save points don’t restore any health or mana. Instead, your restoration will rely heavily on the items you pick up along the way, so you have to learn to make the most of them before you find yourself running out.
Boss battles and everlasting exploration
Boss battles are littered throughout the game to steer you away from the same derelict castle walkways and shake things up with mobs. They pose a decent threat, but much like the standard challengers you encounter, they can hit hard and fast. You shouldn’t expect to walk in and defeat them first try; it’ll take a little while to get used to their battle patterns and move sets. As I’ve already mentioned, you need to master a mobs moves before you can even consider defeating them.
As for the map, it’s relatively simple to get exploring. Most of the time, you move from side to side throughout the map as you would in any Metroidvania. There are some puzzle elements, but they are few and far between. Hence, most of the game relies heavily on combat rather than a puzzle-based storyline. Items and weapons are scattered across the map, which will be valuable additions to your journey. So it’s essential to pick them up if and when you find them.
Additional quests and items provide valuable lore to the game. They also encourage the protagonist to remember elements of her lost memory, aka the entire purpose of the game. Quests will also give the player items they may have missed otherwise. Which are sometimes essential to progressing through the game. Finally, I can’t express enough how important it is to pay attention to your surrounding.
The art style of this game kept me coming back time and time again. Even though it had me gripping my controller and baring my teeth due to its difficulty, I can’t deny the fact it is visually stunning. There is a lot of depth to Lost Ruins; however, it feels incredibly challenging for little payoff. There are several stories and endings to unlock, but I can’t see myself picking it up and facing those dangers repeatedly. If you adore Metroidvanias and need a challenge, you may love Lost Ruins. But if you can’t bare to play the same area until you get it right – then maybe give this one a miss.